Over ten years after all the troubles, Sierra Leone has held three free and fair elections, installed mobile towers, and got the electricity running, mostly. Animal lovers can tour the Outamba-Kilimi National Park, history buffs can explore former slave-founded Freetown, and surfers can hang out with the Bureh Beach Surf Club.
All it takes is one lousy virus to destroy a dozen years’ worth of hard work. Thanks, Ebola.
Going anyway? Get some good travel medical insurance, including medical evacuation. Sierra Leone has come a long way, but it’s still a very poor country with dodgy hospitals and sketchy air service. Before hitting the road, keep an eye on travel advisories and watch the news.
Turtle Island is a 3-hour boat ride from Freetown. The beaches are absolutely free of medical waste and the surfing is amazing. Expect to find open expanses of gorgeous beaches, few but friendly people, and beautiful sunsets. Book early, space is limited, and arrange for water transport through the hotel. Rough seas prevail from May to October.
Mainland or otherwise, visitors to Sierra Leone need to begin an anti-malarial regimen at least 6 weeks before arrival.
Forget the credit cards in Sierra Leone. This is a cash country. Bring US dollars printed after 2000, and don’t give or accept the 1996 series. Some major banks have ATMs. Don’t use an ATM not attached to a bank- it could be a skimming scam.
Though friendly, Sierra Leone is a Muslim country. Getting busted for homosexuality, booze or illegal drugs is a great way to extend your stay in the country fora long, long lonely time.
Though people speak English in the cities, the main local language is Krio, which sounds a bit like West Indies Pidgin. To say ‘How are you?’ in Krio one asks Aw yu du? ‘Thanks’ is Tenki. ‘Goodbye’ is A de go. One pronounces the letter ‘i’ as the long ‘e’ sound in ‘beach’. Need a cab? Ask the titi (girl) for a taksi.